New Zealand marks its sixth year holding the Fijian Language Week which runs from Sunday 7 October to Saturday 13 October.
Living the language is the theme of this year’s language week. The theme Noqu Vosa Me’u Bula Taka means My language, Learn it, Speak it, Live it and focuses on immersing yourself in the language.
New Zealand Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says it’s great to see growing interest in revitalising the language. “To achieve this, we need communities to incorporate it into everyday life, not just during this language week, but year-round,” he says.
“The 2013 Census found nearly 30 percent of Fijians were able to hold an everyday conversation in the language. The 2018 Census results will provide an important check on the language’s health and how well the various language programmes are working.
“There is a general trend that the proportion of Pacific people speaking their heritage language is declining and it’s really important that we support the Fijian and Pacific community in doing what we can to keep these languages well supported and in active use throughout daily life.
At the time of the 2013 Census, there were 14,455 Fijians in New Zealand, with the population increasing by 46 percent between the 2006 and 2013 Census period.
“With 40 percent of Fijians now born in New Zealand, preserving the Fijian language is critical to keeping Fijian culture not just alive, but thriving. This was reinforced by our recent community engagements as part of the Pacific Vision refresh which identified identity, language and culture as a priority area for progress and change.
“New Zealand businesses tell me understanding the Fijian language and culture helps to build strong personal and business relationships. This is important given Fiji is a major trading partner with New Zealand. As of June 2018 exports to Fiji were $693 million and imports from Fiji were $474 million.
“Revitalising the Fijian language is a journey. It won’t happen overnight and requires persistence and commitment.
“I encourage you to make the most out of Fijian Language Week and get out and support the events being held Hamilton, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Wellington, and in Christchurch. Other events include Fiji Day Festival in Mangere and the Matua Day honouring senior citizens in Manukau,” says Aupito William Sio.
Further information about Fijian Language Week including resources can be found here.